I retain some weird affection for the very wayward run of Howling sequels that straggled out of the 1980s into the ‘90s – each one seemingly made on a different continent, and jamming werewolves into a different sub-genre … hence the Australian one with marsupial lycanthropes, the old dark castle one, the carnival one with vampires, the one with more line-dancing than throat-ripping, etc. In the last month or so, I’ve seen two recent werewolf films that could easily have been pitched as entries in the series, down to the preference for big hairy man-in-a-suit monsters over CGI. The other one is Hunter’s Moon, which seems to have gazumped this Canadian project’s original title – prompting it to poach its monicker from the well-remembered 1982 were-cicada movie.
It’s short – with an extended end credits crawl to take it to the 80 minute mark – and has a soap opera-style cast of pretty people with silly problems that get forgotten as soon as the guts start spilling on the floor. August (Steven Morana, who co-directed with Chris Green) has just done all the coding on Werewolves Awaken, an online version of a classic card game, and tycoon Brian Fenris (Art Hindle) hosts a launch party at his remote estate, which is crashed in succession by the nagging ex (Jon Cor) of his current squeeze (Supinder Wraich), a ranting priest who disapproves of this sort of thing (Colm Feore), his own embittered ex (Bobbie Phillips), and something big and hairy which starts killing off the guests. August also has to cope with the fact that he’s just found out his online girlfriend Cheyenne (Holly Deveaux) is a cam-girl and his best friend Stan (Marco Timpano) is one of her biggest fans. Lower down the pecking order, there are some uptight conservative Christians with relationship problems, a groupie who wants to crash the games industry (Alysa King) and a smarmy social media manager (Ari Millen).
In the grand old tradition of The Beast Must Die, it’s a whodunit as well as a monster movie – though the script by Matthew Campagna and Rudy Jahchan fudges things a bit by throwing in an extra culprit (I think it all adds up, but we need periodic flashbacks to establish who did what to whom). The creature effects are okay, with darkness covering a lot of sins, and there are a few script felicities – a speech by one long-lived hunter about the way that social media has evolved into a tribe, but failed in one crucial aspect (‘you forgot to keep the wolves out’) – though a voice-over explanation gets a bit heavy-handed at times. It’s no breakout hit, but I enjoyed it.